Since arriving back in Chapel Hill a few weeks ago with literally no plan for my future other than to teach yoga, I’ve been blessed with lots of opportunities to stay different places for free. These generous offers from friends have made it possible for me to move back home because the move out to Asheville and staying there as long as I did consumed my whole retirement fund, the contents of my bank accounts, and a fairly large insurance settlement check.
My first night back, I didn’t tell anyone I was in town because I was so exhausted physically and emotionally from the abrupt end of my relationship, a whirlwind move out of my condo in Asheville to make way for a new tenant, and driving between Asheville and Chapel Hill multiple times in a week. I felt I needed to disappear for 24 hours. Despite my limited finances, I decided to check in to the Aloft Hotel in Chapel Hill that first night. The front desk staff was kind enough to find me a room in the quietest part of the hotel and agree to a late check-out the next morning. I’ve stayed at two other Aloft locations–the Epicentre (side note: I find the spelling of this word extremely irritating) in Charlotte and BWI Airport outside Baltimore, my hometown–and the Chapel Hill location compares favorably to both. All three Aloft locations share a nightclub vibe in the lobby/bar/common areas and really peaceful guest rooms. I don’t like the bad techno club atmosphere in the lobby at all (Charlotte was the worst in this category), but the guest rooms are truly an affordable escape from reality, with all the comforts one might expect from a pricier hotel–super comfy beds with quality linens, a fantastic shower with Bliss body care products, huge flat screen TV with all the programming options most people could want, a Keurig coffee machine with several coffee and tea options, bottled water, and wifi. My room in Chapel Hill was also exceptionally clean. There’s also a fitness center, indoor pool, and free valet parking, but I didn’t use any of those amenities. I had a very restful day there, and felt ready to face the world again post-check out. But I felt guilty for having stayed. Was I violating one of the yamas (the Yoga equivalent of the Ten Commandments), aparigraha (greedlessness, not taking more than one needs), by staying in a hotel when I definitely did not need to? Was I wasting money that I’d later wish I had back? Was I being antisocial? Regardless of the answers to these questions, I made my peace with it. I needed a mental health day, and I’m not going to become one of those yoga people who takes themselves way too seriously.
My next stop was fellow yoga teacher training graduate Andrea and her fiancee Rob’s place. They are my heroes in many ways–they do work they love, live very simply, make positive contributions to their community and the earth, stay true to their values, and have a truly loving relationship. Their home is in Carrboro‘s Bolin Creek Coop, a community living space where the residents make decisions by consensus. Several residents participate in the care of chickens which provide eggs for the community. I really enjoyed talking with Andrea about what it’s like to live in this type of community, meeting the chickens (especially the naughty one who likes to hide in the trees to avoid being cooped up at night), and enjoying some Carrboro-style downtime. This place is the opposite of the Aloft Hotel, but was just as much a refuge for me during this transition. I slept like a baby for a few nights on the comfy futon in their spare bedroom, enjoyed several meaningful conversations, and scarfed down a fantastic breakfast Rob cooked for us (it was as good as any breakfast I’ve had in a restaurant in recent memory). The neighbors were hosting a showing of the most recent episode of the HBO series Game of Thrones. After a lengthy and much appreciated explanation of the plot and backstory from Andrea, I enjoyed the show, the company, and some popcorn and gelato. Game of Thrones is not a show I would ever have started watching on my own, but it’s kind of enthralling, so I’m planning on watching the first season of the series at some point so I can enjoy it more thoroughly.
After a few nights at the coop, I moved on to housesit for Tracy. She and her partner are on a well-deserved and much-needed vacation, and her sweet dog and cat need a caretaker. The timing worked out perfectly. Her house is close enough to downtown Carrboro and Chapel Hill to be convenient, but is far enough away to feel like it’s way out in the country. There’s tons of wide open outdoor space, a trampoline (of course I’ve used it), satellite TV with all the trashy reality shows I will admit to enjoying on occasion, and a huge bathtub. What more could a girl want? Coco, the dog, wasn’t too excited about my arrival at first, but we have become great friends. I will really miss her presence on the floor beside my bed at night when I leave in a few days.
For my practice today, I decided to take advantage of Tracy’s extensive library of yoga books and DVDs and alternately watched and practiced to a marathon of Sarah Powers’ Insight Yoga DVDs. I especially enjoyed the Balancing Yang Energy DVD’s “Ground Support: Breathing into the Hara” practice. At a time of so much movement and change, grounding asana feels really good in my body. I’m thinking that the focus in my asana classes this week will be on getting more grounded, and remembering that what we are looking for already resides within us. Om mani padme hum, “the jewel is in the lotus”.